• April 22nd, 2024
  • Monday, 10:10:21 AM

Walks With Wolves


 

Sean Seary

 

My love for the outdoors is tied, inherently, to my childhood: growing up in the greater New York metropolitan area, I spent a lot of time playing sports outside with my friends, going for walks with my dog, and helping my mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother in the garden. I was very much into wildlife, and was always reading and watching shows about big cats, wolves, chimps, and so many other wild critters.

 

I looked up to people like Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall, who had helped foster not just curiosity for the wild world, but also love and compassion for its inhabitants. These conservationists taught many young minds, like my own at the time, that we should be doing our best to protect mother earth and all of the plants and animals that call this world home. They inspired me to want to work with animals, and so I made that my dream.

 

Photo: Sean Seary
Sean Seary

I’ve thankfully been able to make a career out of working in the environmental field, which is a blessing in and of itself. Throughout the various positions I’ve held and workplaces I’ve found myself in, I noticed a glaring lack of diversity in the environmental/outdoor/conservation world. As a mixed-race Latino of Puerto Rican descent, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how truly underrepresented our people are in the greater conversation about conservationism and environmentalism. Which explains why popular environmental figures never looked, acted, or spoke like us.

 

After spending many years bouncing around environmental careers; from education to policy, outdoor recreation, and back into education, I was finally able to make my dream a reality. I started working at the Wolf Conservation Center in early 2022, and just like that my childhood dream to work with animals had come true! It took a lot of time, energy, and effort to make it this far, but perseverance and sense of purpose goes a long way.

 

At the Wolf Conservation Center, I get to work with wolves on a daily basis and teach programs that discuss the history of wolves throughout North America, the ecological role they play in their habitats, in addition to the human role in protecting their future. We’re currently home to 32 wolves, 30 of whom are critically endangered species who belong to a federally managed wild-release program (we’re a nonprofit who help facilitate and administer the program). The other 2 wolves are our Ambassador wolves, who are essentially wolf teachers and allow folks to experience what it’s like to see and be around wolves.

 

A lot of the work that we do, not just in terms of education and advocacy, but also through conservation efforts, helps change the negative stigmas and stereotypes about wolves. Like people, wolves live in family units (or packs) and they care deeply for their pack members. They are intelligent, beautiful, and emotional beings, and have every right to exist on this earth as we do. I’m incredibly thankful that my work not only allows me to change the perception of Latinos in the environmental field, but also change how people perceive wolves. While I’m getting to live out this childhood dream, I haven’t lost sight of the ambition that took me to this point, and will use it help make learning about wolves more accessible to disenfranchised and underrepresented communities.

 

As a mixed-race Latino of Puerto Rican descent, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how truly underrepresented our people are in the greater conversation about conservationism and environmentalism.

 

 

Sean Seary is an environmental educator from the New York metro area; he is a Program Educator II at the Wolf Conservation Center. This article reproduced with permission by Latino Outdoors.

 

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